What's the Right Wooden Bo Staff for You?
The bo staff is known for having a particularly long-range striking ability for a melee weapon. The extra reach allows you to attack a foe without getting too close. This is why, no matter which Ninja Turtles video game you play, the bo-wielding Donatello is the most popular choice.
Similarly, bo staff practitioners often select a six foot staff for their own real-life martial arts practice. This mimics the traditional practice of using a bo that is roughly around the height of its wielder, since statistically speaking, everyone is 5'9". Anyone shorter than that can either get a 5 foot staff or get a 6 foot bo staff and fine tune its length with a saw.
However, while the longer bo staff has great reach, a shorter bo staff and even the four-foot jo staff are easier to control. The dynamic with length is thus reach versus control.Once you've chosen your bo staff's ideal length, you can make the other choices.
Straight vs Tapered
A straight bo like the Straight Hardwood Bo has a consistent diameter from end to end. Tapering on a bo staff means that the ends have a smaller diameter than the center. For example, the Tapered Hardwood Bo has a thick diameter of an inch and a quarter in the center portion where you put your hands and then the diameter thins out to three quarters of an inch at each end. The resulting shape leads to the common name of "toothpick bo."
The main advantage of a tapered bo staff is the speed it gives you. Because there's less mass to move, the staff has less weight and lighter staffs are easier to move quickly. In addition, the thinner ends provide less air resistance, which also allows for greater speed. Because the tapering occurs at the ends, this lighter weight and reduced air resistance work without changing the feel where you put your hands. This way, you can practice with a heavier straight wooden bo to build up your speed and stamina, and then move to the tapered one without much change in how the bo staff feels in your hand. This is different with competition bo staffs.
Competition vs Traditional
Competition staffs like the Competition Straight Hardwood Bo differ from their...non-competition counterparts by having a smaller diameter. Because martial arts competitions generally involve trying to do fast kata, the all-around thinner diameter accomplishes this in the same way that the tapering does, but you can feel the different thickness because the Competition Straight Hardwood Bo has a diameter of a mere inch. This means that the Competition Tapered Hardwood Bo is the lightest of our hardwood bo staffs, since it has that same one-inch thickness at the center and then tapers down to just three quarters of an inch at each end. Being the lightest bo staff, the competition toothpick bo staff is ideal for tournaments and other situations where you'll want to move your bo staff as quickly as possible.
In ConclusionAs we've mentioned in the past, heavier weapons work very well for training by building up your strength. As such, the heavier straight staffs work best for training, while the lighter staffs are perfect for competitions and demonstrations.
Now that you know the factors involved, you should be able to make the choice on the best bo staff for whatever martial arts purpose you have.
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